Isn’t this eco-friendly paper box beautiful?
But for the saddest, most personal of occasions–a casket for infant death. (Infant casket from Passages International)
In 1997, my first pregnancy ended in an early miscarriage; I was barely pregnant before I wasn’t any longer. As loss goes, it was a small one–nothing physically traumatic, easily healed from. Emotionally, though, it was much harder–that baby was tried for and hoped for and dreamed for for nearly a year before she came and then went, and now I had nothing to go on other than the doctor’s report that I had miscarried. There would be no body, no service, nothing besides two lines on a test to prove she once existed.
What you don’t know until you have a pregnancy loss is that it’s very common. It’s the Secret Sorority You Never Want To Join–you really don’t even know about it until you belong, and then you do.
After you lose a pregnancy, women open up to you. It’s amazing how many of us, walking around every day, have stories of pregnancy loss in their past–but it’s something we just don’t talk about until we have a new member to comfort. In a strange way, it’s reassuring to know that so many have been through it as well, and have good lives and children to show for it at the end, but until you’ve been through it, you have no idea. I imagine now, in the age of the internet, it may change a bit–the support is more out there, more known–but pregnancy loss is a something you can’t really understand until you’ve been there.
Pregnancy loss and infant death happens, usually completely unexpectedly. It’s out of sequence, not the way it’s supposed to go, any inkling or contemplation of it avoided in some protective “If I don’t see it, it isn’t there” game a pregnant woman plays with herself. That’s natural and normal–a woman in pregnancy would drive herself insane considering the what-ifs, especially the remote edge cases such as pregnancy and infant loss. Sadly, it does very occasionally occur, and leaves expectant parents in uncharted, unconsidered territory, whether a miscarriage to mourn privately, or death of an infant known to many..
Death–yours, mine, of a present loved one–need not be, should not be the same. It certainly will bring up similar loss and grief to work through, but there’s one thing we all know–how this journey will end, or rather that this journey will end. NO ONE is getting out alive. EVERYONE needs a plan for how they want the end to be, from the advanced directives and such, down to choice of funeral arrangements, what you want done to/with your body, and how and what you want left behind on earth to commemorate your life.
With few exceptions, you don’t control the timing of your death. But you can plan and control certain aspects of it, and in doing so give a gift to those who survive you. Death, always, is a horrible thought, as it brings loss and grief. But to not face it and plan around it adds chaos and burden to the moment.